Keep Asking Why

On a routine visit to one of his factories, Ricardo Semler collapsed and passed out. He was just 25 years old.

For the last 4 years, Semler had been at the helm of his Dad’s company Semco; a São Paulo based supplier of major shipbuilding equipment.

When Ricardo took over, Semco’s earnings were in free-fall. The Brazilian shipping industry was in deep decline, and senior management had voted against diversifying into other businesses. So Ricardo got to work on re-igniting growth and putting the company on a path to profit. Read more


Like any major brand, it started with humble beginnings. In this case, it was a one-day rail excursion from Leicester to Loughborough.

Fast-forward 170 years, and the company that still bears its founders name has evolved into an industry giant. Thomas Cook has over 30 tour-operating brands, 2,000 travel agencies, 60 aircraft and 30,000 staff. However, big doesn’t necessarily mean best. It might be large, but it’s in trouble.

Thomas Cook’s share price is in free fall. And its debt pile is threatening to bankrupt the company. Read more

What are you Selling?

I got a call this week from a customer of mine. He was ecstatic. His company had just scooped IBM’s prestigious Business Partner of the Year award; a real testament to the sheer grit, determination and passion that his entire team brings to work every day.

As part of collecting the award, he got some time with one of IBM’s Marketing Execs.

The Exec shared a story of getting his bathroom redone. The usual happened. Plenty of workmen came; some huffed, some puffed, some quoted sky high, some quoted rock bottom. But the one he selected didn’t talk about baths, sinks, or even price. Read more

Make Them Look Cool

Every one of us has probably belonged to a fan club at one stage in our lives. As a child of the eighties, I’m familiar with the agony of waiting for an autographed photo to drop through the letterbox.

The chances are, the photo wasn’t authentically hand signed, but merely a duplicated print. But it didn’t matter. If the celebrity was current, it meant real bragging rights at school.

Fast forward to 2013.

Social platforms now give us the ability to communicate with any celebrity at the touch of button. No waiting for that duplicated photo to drop through the mail. Now we can actually have a conversation. What used to be a one-directional monologue (controlled by a PR department) has become a dialogue (with the real star themselves). Read more

Why Don’t You Drink It?

When it comes to advertising claims, the majority of us are sceptics. And it’s no surprise. From beauty creams that make our wrinkles vanish, pills that make our hair grow back, or chocolate bars that are actually good for us. We’ve heard it all before.

A few years back, American entrepreneur Eric Ryan was in London launching his new product; a line of toilet cleaner.

As expected, the audience heard the usual spiel about amazing cleaning qualities. But Eric also claimed something else. He reckoned his product was harmless too. Unlike others, his contained no poisonous nasties. Read more